Plantar Fasciitis

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The bottom surface of the foot consists of a thick band of tissue called plantar fascia. The band runs from the base of the heel through to the toes.The plantar fascia assists with stabilisation of the foot with movement. When this band becomes inflamed/strained it can cause pain and is labeled "plantar fasciitis".

Excessive stretching/repetitive strain and micro-tearing of the plantar fascia is commonly caused by:
  • Abnormal repetitive strain (e.g. excess abnormal running technique)
  • Excess activity over a short period of time (e.g. increasing the intensity of a training regime too quickly).
  • Overweight or sedentary lifestyle.
  • Exercising on excessively hard surfaces
  • There is evidence of an increase incidence with aging.
  • Some people have a history of other leg injuries that may have cause the way you walk to change (which may affect the foot).
  • There are some arthritic conditions that may also cause plantar fasciitis (this may require referral for further investigation if suspected).
Signs & Symptoms
  • Most common complaint is pain on the under surface of the heel.
  • Pain often comes on with the first few steps after sitting/sleeping.
  • Pain is relieved by taking pressure off the foot.
  • People who spend the day on their feet may experience increased pain towards the end of the day.
  • Pain can sometimes improve after walking for a while.

Osteopathic Treatment

  • Your osteopath will perform a detailed past medical history and perform a physical examination to determine the extent of the injury and treatment approach.
  • Your osteopath will review your legs, pelvis, back and the rest of the body to ensure that the walking/running cycle is not influencing your feet in an abnormal way.
  • You may be referred for imaging studies (X-ray, CT, or ultrasound) if further investigation is required.


  • Ice is beneficial in the first 24-48 hours (3 sets of 10 minutes on 10 minutes off - 3-4 times per day).
  • A short course pain relieving and/or anti-inflammatory medication may be of benefit with consultation of your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Your osteopath may prescribe wearing a heel lift over a short course to assist with reducing the strain on your foot. Strapping is also of some benefit in the initial stages.
  • A very effective self treatment technique for plantar fasciitis is a golf ball (or equivalent) self massage routine. Only commence this on advice from your osteopath. Simply place the golf ball on the floor and massage your foot by gently rolling it over the ball for approximately 5 minutes (2-3 times per day). Alternatives suggested are rolling a broom handle, water bottle, or even a frozen lime.
  • Once pain has settled you will be prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises with an aim to restoring your foot to its pre-injury state and make it stronger with an aim to prevent recurrence.
  • You will also be educated on lifestyle and ergonomical factors that may have contributed to the sprain.
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